The Queensland Labor government appears caught between the rhetoric for coal mines and the recent win for the Liberal National coalition and the call to protect the existing jobs of 64,000 people who rely on the wonders of a healthy Great Barrier Reef.
In an announcement in Cairns, a hub for Great Barrier Reef tourism, the Queensland Premier revealed the state’s Coordinator General has set a new timetable to finalise two outstanding approvals for the coal mine by 13 June.
‘Our community depends on our beautiful natural environment to attract visitors from around the globe and the Adani mine and the Galilee basin coal is a risk to that,’ said David Cazzulino, Cairns-based Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) Great Barrier Reef Community Campaigner.
Jobs under threat from coal mines
‘Jobs in tourism, hospitality and retail all directly rely on people continuing to visit the wonder of our World Heritage Great Barrier Reef.
‘Pushing through the Adani coal mine risks opening up the Galilee region to even more coal mines at a time when scientists have warned us that the coal has to stay in the ground.
‘How can we expect the world to act to move away from fossil fuels if we in Queensland, as custodians of the world’s greatest Reef, can’t show them the way?’
Tanya Murphy, coordinator of Divers for Reef Conservation, said: ‘The Premier keeps talking about jobs – what about my job as a dive instructor? There are 64,000 people like us that rely on the Great Barrier Reef for our livelihoods. Adani’s coal mine and the rest of the Galilee Basin’s coal threatens the future of our Reef.’
Cazzulino added: ‘Charging recklessly on with coal mines is not the way to keep global warming below 1.5C – a temperature that scientists have concluded will at least give coral reefs around the world a fighting chance.
‘The corals don’t really care about the politics or the process of this. What they are reacting to, though, is the temperature of the ocean that’s being pushed to critical levels by the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. Our government science agencies are clear on this – climate change is the biggest threat facing our Reef.
‘We are the custodian of the world’s biggest coral reef ecosystem – people have come to Queensland from around the globe, in their millions, to see it. About 64,000 people have a job because of it.’